Engineering and Technology in Your World

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Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life
Look around you. Great masterpieces of engineering are everywhere. As soon as you get out of bed in the morning, you are putting centuries of scientific and mechanical ingenuity to use. So familiar are these structures, inventions, and services that they are all but invisible. Yet they are just as…
Simple Machines around the House
Nothing embodies everyday engineering like simple machines--the basic mechanical devices used for thousands of years that we rely on more than we may realize. Probe the wonders of the inclined plane, screw, wedge, lever, wheel-and-axle, and pulley, and ponder their myriad applications.
The Future: Engineering for Sustainability
Look beyond recycling to the higher goal of sustainability. Then close the course by considering the Great Northeast Blackout of 2003. Caused by inadequately pruned trees and a software bug, this cascading sequence of infrastructure failures holds important lessons for the world of everyday engineering.
Dam, Reservoir, and Aqueduct Design
Now consider the water that you want in your house--for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Examine the technologies that collect water from a watershed and transport it to a municipality. Explore different designs for dams, and marvel at the Catskill Aqueduct that carries fresh water to New York City.
Highway Engineering
Step into the work boots of a highway engineer, tasked with designing a freeway across hilly terrain to connect two other highways. Discover that features of a safe road that you take for granted--constant-radius curves, gentle grade, sturdy construction, and a well-drained surface--require detailed planning.
Electrical Power Distribution
Trace the distribution of electrical power from a substation to your home. Begin with the transformer, discovering how this crucial device functions. By the end of this lecture, you will be able to read a utility pole like a book, analyzing the different services attached to these ubiquitous structures.
Your House as an Engineered System
In the first of four lectures on your house as a technological system, review the eight engineered subsystems that go into modern dwellings. Then discover the miracle of building codes, which ensure that every new house is safe, constructible, and reasonably economical without involving an engineer in each design.
Suspension Bridges: The Battle of the Cable
After learning the science behind suspension bridges, begin your two-episode look at these structural marvels. Here, relive the Battle of the Cable, in which 19th-century engineers struggled over whether to build suspension cables from iron chains (as in England's Menai Strait Bridge) or steel wire (as in the Brooklyn Bridge).
Tunnel Engineering
Delve into tunnel engineering, a discipline every bit as impressive as bridge building, only less visible. Consider the challenges presented by the type of soil or rock being excavated for a tunnel, marvel at the work of mammoth tunnel boring machines, and weigh the tradeoffs between tunnels versus bridges.
A Robot for Every Task?
Episode 10 of Robotics Series
Wouldn't it be great to have a robot that took out your trash or put away your books? Explore how robots are designed to perform specific tasks, and the choices roboticists must consider in doing so--including the stability of the workplace and the minute steps of the task itself.
Site Design and Storm Runoff
What happens to the precipitation that falls on your house, your lot, and your neighbors' properties? Study the problem of site design, focusing on how storm runoff is directed away from homes and returned to a natural watercourse, without causing flooding along the way.
Passive Solar and Net-Zero-Energy Homes
How much energy can you save with a properly designed house? Would you believe all of it? Trace the trend in passive solar and net-zero-energy homes that are engineered to stay comfortable year-round by exploiting sunlight in winter and shielding against it in summer, with minimal operating costs.